Friday Offcuts – 8 March 2024

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Welcome to this week's edition of Friday Offcuts, delivering the latest updates and insights from across the forestry and wood processing sectors.

Today is International Woman’s Day and we're celebrating the invaluable contributions women are making in our industry. While forestry has traditionally been male-centric, the surge in female representation throughout the industry and in leadership roles paves the way for gender equality and diversity. As we celebrate progress, let's also acknowledge the journey ahead as we continue to innovate and grow the sector.

FIEA has just released the programme for Environmental Forestry 2024, which is being held on 25-26 June 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand. This two-day event, complemented by pre and post- conference workshops, addresses critical issues in environmental forest management and harvesting practices, especially pertinent given recent events like Gabrielle and the pressing need to optimise water use to mitigate climate impacts.

And don't forget, today is the deadline for the NZ Silviculture Micro Innovation Challenge. If you or someone you know has developed something that enhances silviculture tasks' ease, efficiency, or safety, register your ideas at

We cover these and more in another packed edition of Friday Offcuts. Enjoy the read.

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Bushfire control massive priority for Victoria

The recent bushfires that swept through timber plantations west of Ballarat reveals a staggering toll on Victoria's forestry industry. The blaze decimated vast expanses of pine trees managed by HVP Plantations. Approximately 1,000 hectares of pine, destined for both local mills and export markets, could be unsalvageable.

Richard Mailer, HVP Plantations corporate fire manager said that plantations under 12 years old face total devastation, while some older areas may offer slim hopes of salvage. The Mount Lonarch fire stands as HVP's most significant setback since the Black Summer fires of 2019-20, which ravaged thousands of hectares across their estate.

As Victoria grapples with escalating bushfire risks exacerbated by climate change, the resilience of its plantation forestry sector faces severe tests. David Lindenmayer, a prominent voice in environmental science, underscores the urgent need for smarter fire management strategies and technological innovations to safeguard Australia's shrinking timber industry from further decline.

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Source: ABC
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New Research Centres to transform Australian forestry

Under the Albanese Government's Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program, two new research centres have been selected to join forces with the University of Tasmania (UTAS) in transforming Australia's forestry industry into a more sustainable and low-emission sector. The University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Melbourne are the latest additions to this pioneering initiative, aimed at fostering innovation and sustainability in wood products and forestry management.

Strategic Expansion of AFWI

The announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, Murray Watt, marks a significant step in Australia's commitment to enhancing its forestry sector. With a combined funding of AU$24.5 million allocated to each new research centre, this initiative not only extends the geographical reach of AFWI but also diversifies the expertise and research capabilities within the Australian forestry industry.

The University of Melbourne’s Research Centre will operate from the Burnley Campus in Richmond, Victoria, while the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Centre will be based at the Sunshine Coast Campus in Sippy Downs, Queensland. These centres are poised to address critical challenges in the industry, including climate change mitigation, sustainable expansion, and the transformation of wood residues into renewable energy solutions.

Funding and Objectives

The allocation of more than AU$100 million in grants under the AFWI agreement with UTAS underscores the government's dedication to revolutionising the forestry sector through research and innovation. The primary objectives of these research centres include the development of sustainable wood products and systems, the expansion of Australian forestry resources, and the exploration of new methods for converting wood residues into renewable products. By focusing on these areas, AFWI aims to position Australia at the forefront of forestry innovation, ensuring the long-term viability and competitiveness of the industry on a global scale.

Implications for the Future

This strategic investment in forestry research and innovation heralds a new era for Australia’s forestry industry. It not only demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability but also highlights the potential for economic growth and job creation within the sector. As these research centres begin their work, the industry can anticipate breakthroughs that will facilitate its transition to a low-emissions future, aligning with broader national goals for environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation. The collaborative approach, leveraging the strengths of each participating institution, sets a precedent for future initiatives aimed at addressing global challenges through local innovation.

The launch of these research centres under the AFWI program represents a pivotal moment for Australia's forestry industry. By harnessing the power of research and innovation, the sector is well-positioned to navigate the challenges of the 21st century, ensuring its sustainability, profitability, and contribution to the fight against climate change. The collective efforts of the University of Tasmania, the University of Melbourne, and the University of the Sunshine Coast, supported by substantial government funding, are set to redefine the landscape of Australian forestry, making it a model for sustainable practices worldwide.

For more information on Australian Forest and Wood Innovations, visit the DAFF website


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FIEA Environmental Forestry launched

With plenty of cooperation from industry leaders, NZ Forest Owners Association and previous delegates, FIEA is pleased to announce the release of our Environmental Forestry 2024 conference programme. This event runs on 25-26 June 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand and will also feature pre-conference and post- conference workshops.

One keynote speaker is Dean Meason, who is a key scientist in Scion’s Forest Flows Research work programme. Forest Flows is a five-year research programme (September 2019 to September 2024) focused on forest hydrology. Scion is leading the MBIE- supported programme. The programme is developing methods to predict and optimise water use and supply in planted forests and answer the questions; Where is the water? Where is it going? and who gets to use it?

This research aims to create a biophysical model of forest hydrology that accurately predicts water storage and release for entire catchments, while also providing data on changes in water quality over time.

The project:
  • Identifies key forest hydrological processes by combining monitoring of soil-plant-atmosphere interactions with a range of targeted ground-based research over the long term.
  • Develops and uses remote-sensing tools to collect data that spans catchments and forests and can be linked to key forest hydrological processes.
  • Creates a model that predicts hydrological flow across a range of NZ- planted forests.
  • Builds a decision-making framework that provides the necessary information to optimise water use in planted forests.
A full list of speakers and programme for Environmental Forestry 2024 can be found on the event's website. Super early bird discounted registrations are now available, and finish on 29 March 2024. 

Environmental Forestry 2024

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Forestry investing in women to accelerate progress

Forestry Corporation is honouring the significant contribution that women make in the forestry industry. Friday 8 March 2024 marks International Women’s Day and this year's theme is Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

As a major player in Australian forestry – a traditionally male-dominated industry - Forestry Corporation stands proud of its gender equality in the workplace. Women currently make up a quarter of the workforce with many female leaders in management roles standing at the forefront of the industry.

Forestry Corporation’s Talent & OD Business Partner Amba Addinsall said there has been a marked increase in female representation in Forestry Corporation’s executive and leadership teams.

“Our executive leadership team has hit gender parity for the first time ever and 24% of our senior leaders are now women,” Ms Addinsall said.

More >>

Source: Forestry Corporation NSW

Why we celebrate International Women's Day at HQP

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the achievements of women and a call to action for accelerating gender equality and eliminating bias. This year, Jason Wilson, HQPlantations CEO, says we have a lot to celebrate...and more to do.

"Once a year we take the time on International Women’s Day to recognise how far we have come over the last few decades to improve equality and inclusion for women. It is also a day to focus our attention on how far we have yet to go," said Jason.

The appointment of HQP’s first female District Manager, Tracey Grigor, and first female General Manager, Michelle McAndrew, helped HQP make better decisions that are more informed and with more diverse views. 

More >>

Source: HQPlantations

Bonus Coverage

Last month was a different, but related day, called the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We profiled a couple of stories on this date. Scion posted a video we missed, but still relevant to today and celebrates the important work women are doing throughout the industry.

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NZ Forestry Industry Safety Council faces funding cuts

The New Zealand forestry industry is facing a potential setback in its safety efforts due to a recent funding cut by WorkSafe, the government agency responsible for workplace safety. WorkSafe has decided to reduce its financial support to the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) by 35-40%, raising concerns about the potential impact on safety initiatives within the industry.

The funding reduction comes despite the forestry sector having one of the highest rates of work-related fatalities and serious injuries in the country. FISC is expected to be forced to lay off staff and scale back on crucial safety programs as a result of the funding cuts.

While acknowledging the safety challenges faced by the forestry industry, WorkSafe maintains that the funding adjustments are necessary to optimise their approach and allocate resources towards areas with the most significant impact. They have also reiterated their commitment to safety and ongoing collaboration with the forestry sector.

"The funding cuts will have a negative impact on safety in the forestry industry," said FISC council chair, Simon O'Grady. "If there is reduced funding going into the programmes that directly affect health and safety in our forests and other industries, then you would imagine that that ... would have a flow-on effect and we're certainly concerned that might be the outcome."

More >>

Source: RNZ

Komatsu Forest Advert

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PF Olsen NZ log market report – Feb 2024

Market Summary

At Wharf Gate (AWG) log prices were stable in February. Log demand in China increased very slowly after the Chinese New Year. CFR log prices have held steady, while log inventory increased during the holiday period. Shipping costs have increased through February and the CFR log prices in China won’t be able to increase to compensate. This means AWG log prices in New Zealand will be under pressure in March.

Domestic log prices are stable with log pricing set for Quarter 1.

The PF Olsen Log Price Index remained at $125. The index is currently $6 above the two-year average, and $4 above the three-year and five-year averages.

Domestic Log Market

Domestic log prices are stable as most log pricing was set at the start of Quarter 1. 

The NZ Reserve Bank has kept the official cash rate at 5.5%. This was expected by the market, but the Reserve Bank softened its stance slightly with new indications it may cut interest rates sooner than expected. “Core inflation and most measures of inflation expectations have declined, and the risks to the inflation outlook have become more balanced.” A rate cut sooner than expected would be welcome news to the sawmilling industry.

Export Log Markets - China

China softwood log inventory increased to 3m m3 over the Lunar New Year Holiday period. Activity has started back very slowly since the holiday period and log use is still below 10k m3 per day heading to the end of February. Even when daily off-take gets back to 50k this still means there is two months of inventory in China.

The sale price for A grade pine logs in China remained stable in February with a slight increase to be in the 128-132 USD range.

The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI remained at 50.8 in January.  (Any number above 50 signals manufacturing growth). This is the first time since May 2021 the index has remained in the expansion zone for three straight months. The market is waiting to see how log demand will recover after the holiday period but early indications are that the construction activity will remain very slow.

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Scott Downs, Director Sales & Marketing, PF Olsen Ltd

Source: PF Olsen

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Electric log truck gears up for phase two

Fennell Forestry will receive an AU$200,000 cash injection from the South Australian state government to commence phase two of an electric log truck trial. The funding for phase two of the Fennell Forestry project will examine how heavy vehicle decarbonisation can contribute towards a green circular economy.

It will build on the outcomes of a phase one trial run from last year when Fennell Forestry tested the nation’s first electric heavy vehicle. A further AU$70,000 in funding will be handed to the South Australian Forest Products Association to develop a State of the Industry Report. The funding announcements followed the release of the South Australian Wood Fibre and Timber Industry Master Plan. The plan aims to provide a vision to further grow and develop the state’s AU$1.4 billion forest and timber industry with three main goals identified aiming to strengthen the industry, domestic manufacturing and infrastructure capability.

These goals include the right resources and capability, a “future-focused” workforce and a “clean and green” circular economy. It has been developed by the Forest Industries Advisory Council of South Australia in consultation with the Minister for Forestry Clare Scriven and will be reviewed annually.

This will be done to keep pace with the socioeconomic and environmental changes influencing the industry including international trade, climate change and technological developments. Fennell Forestry Managing Director Wendy Fennell said the region had a great fibre resource in the Green Triangle region. “We are looking forward to working with the government on this,“ she said.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas praised Ms Fennell and Fennell Forestry for their vision and risk-taking. “Decarbonising is an important endeavour and I recognise Fennell Forestry for their leadership,“ he said. “Wendy is a demonstration that risks can take off.“

Chair of the South Australian Forest Products Association Governing Council Tammy Auld said the master plan has been developed in consultation with stakeholders from the forest and timber industries through the revitalised Forest Industries Advisory Council with an aim to work towards a future where all fibre grown in the region will be locally processed.

“South Australian Forest Products Association (SAFPA) are grateful to the state government, especially the Minister for Forest Industries, Clare Scriven, for listening and working in collaboration with the industry to deliver this Master Plan“, she said.

“We know that if we can process all the fibre grown in the region, we have the ability to create over 20,000 new jobs, ensuring that South Australia has sovereign fibre capacity at the same time as decarbonizing our economy. With projects such as the Fennell Forestry electric log truck, the government isn’t just talking about change, but supporting transformation and innovation within the region”.

“Collaboration has been a key part in the development of this master plan and I look forward to the ongoing partnership with industry through FIAC-SA as the associated projects are implemented to ensure that all South Australians continue to benefit from the sustainable growth and future success of South Australia’s forest industries.”

Other projects identified as priorities through the master plan are expected to be developed and implemented over the coming three years.

More >>

Source: borderwatch

Wendy Fennell outlined to forestry and log haulage companies along with the manufacturers of the electric battery system, Janus Electric, used to convert their diesel prime mover across to electric at last year’s Wood Transport & Logistics 2023 event. This year, Wendy will be presenting again to the industry as part of the upcoming Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event being held in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. She for the first time will be sharing just how the figures from their in-forest and on-road trials with their electric truck are stacking up after 12 months and lessons from the conversion. Last year's event was a sell-out. Programme details and registration information can be found on the event website.

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Positive forestry announcements in Tasmania welcomed

With the Tasmanian election campaign in full swing the Australian Forest Contractors Association has welcomed the positive policy announcements from the Liberal Party, General Manager Tim Lester said.

“Last week’s announcements on timber resource security recognise that the forest product supply chain needs certainty in order to facilitate investment,” Tim Lester said.

“Sustainable forestry offers Tasmania and Tasmanians the opportunity to achieve a triple win with secure, high quality jobs generating an incredible, renewable and in-demand material that is ripe for value-adding, and deliver positive results for the environment, biodiversity and climate change.

Forest contractors are a critical part of the local supply chain and welcome all efforts to strengthen the industry within Tasmania to protect jobs, boost the economy and help to meet ambitious climate change targets.

“Forest management needs to focus on the long-term, so we know that we can keep delivering positive results for generations of Tasmanians to come. A political and policy environment that provides certainty for business investment is absolutely critical, and we welcome the promises from Jeremy Rockliffe and Felix Ellis that support this goal,” Mr Lester concluded.

Source: Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) 

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Pacifica Shipping introduces battery swap e-trucks

NZ coastal shipping operator Pacifica Shipping is introducing fully electric battery swap trucks to create one of New Zealand’s lowest emission supply chains for heavy freight.

The company, a division of Swire Shipping (NZ), received NZ$252,000 in co-funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) towards the project.

It will help deploy two XCMG E700 electric trucks, supplied by local distributor Etrucks, to move full containers for the first and last mile at the ports of Auckland and Christchurch. The project is poised to achieve a significant reduction in carbon footprint by eliminating 5,100 conventional combustion engine truck movements and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 250 tonnes annually.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) have joined the initiative as a product partner while Mainfreight and Hilton Haulage have been brought on board as inland transportation partners. The first phase of the project will see the commencement of Mainfreight operating the battery swap trucks between CCEP’s Mount Wellington site and the Port of Auckland.

Operations will soon be expanded to Christchurch with Hilton Haulage operating between Lyttelton Port and CCEP’s Woolston site. The E700’s battery swap technology enables the rapid replacement of discharged battery modules with fully charged ones. This technology minimises operational downtime and enhances productivity.

Source: transporttalk

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Blenheim company turning wood chips into graphite

In New Zealand, a Blenheim company is turning wood chips and sawdust into graphite to be used in EV batteries.

CarbonScape was founded in 2006 - with a focus on making carbon products using waste biomass like wood chips to create biochar to help soil health and also green coke coal for steelmaking.

However, the company has changed its focus to offering customers its patent technology that converts woody biomass to biographite. In recent years CarbonScape has received an NZ$18 million investment from Swedish and Finnish company Stora Enso - considered one of the biggest forest, paper and packaging companies in the world.

In December it also won a multi-million-dollar grant from Callaghan Innovation. CarbonScape's finance director Oliver Foster told Bryan the company wants to become the preferred graphite choice when it comes to manufacturing batteries.

Listen here.

Source: RNZ

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SnapSTAT - ANZ outlook for forestry & primary industries

Here is New Zealand's primary industries outlook at a glance. See the link for full details from the ANZ Research team. It would appear exports to India are looking good (again!).


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Tree detection advances towards precision forestry

Advances in sensors and aerial platforms continue to offer Forest growers an increasing array of precision datasets. Extracting further value to streamline management is desirable, though often limited due to software costs, computing constraints and iterations required to extract meaningful results.

Working alongside SKYCAN, Indufor’s resource monitoring team has overcome these challenges. The pilot commercial solution was deployed in 2021, where Indufor’s tree detection and analytical layers provide forest growers with precise information that confirms plantation establishment, provides auditable measures of stocking, and importantly improves efficiency of field inspections – with many tasks such as early age tree counts done from the desktop.

Building on this, Abdullah Madawi and Dr Pete Watt presented work at the Remote Sensing Cluster Group (November 2023) run in conjunction with ForestTECH develop a novel online tree detection approach that uses UAV data.

Abdullah comments “UAVs have quickly become the forester’s choice for rapid area reconnaissance, utilising these images collected opens the door to extract further information”. In collaboration with Forest Growers Research and Scion, the team will look to build and deploy the fully operational system by mid-2024.

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Komatsu & Williams Racing reignite partnership

Leading heavy equipment manufacturer Komatsu has signed a multi-year deal with Williams Racing to become the Principal Partner of the British team from the start of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) season.

Komatsu was a key partner of Williams Racing in Formula One during the 1980s and 1990s, a period of abundant success for the team. The most notable achievements were in 1996 and 1997, when Komatsu supported Williams Racing to Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve respectively. With an eye to the future, both brands are excited to build on their shared history as they embark on a new era.

Tokyo-based Komatsu has been leading innovation in the equipment manufacturing sector for more than 100 years. As embodied by its brand promise, “Creating value together,” the company believes that collaborative partnerships are the optimal way to create a lasting positive impact.

"Komatsu and Williams Racing have shared values around innovation and the development of our people,” said Hiroyuki Ogawa, President and CEO of Komatsu Ltd. “Through our partnership we look forward to creating value together, both on and off the track. Our partnership with Williams Racing, is aligned with Komatsu’s mission to create value through manufacturing and technology innovations to empower a sustainable future where people, businesses and our planet can thrive together.”

James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams Racing said: “Williams Racing is delighted to be rekindling our relationship with Komatsu. We have enjoyed huge success together in the past and reuniting is a significant step in Williams Racing’s long-term mission to return to the front of the grid. Both Williams and Komatsu are committed to attracting and developing the best young talent in pursuit of our goals and we look forward to working together again.”

Komatsu’s logo and branding will feature prominently on the 2024 Williams Racing livery, as well as the team’s overalls and kit, during the upcoming Formula One season.

With operations in more than 140 countries, Komatsu is a global provider of premium heavy equipment, services and solutions. The company introduced the world’s first autonomous dump truck in 2008 and is helping customers advance towards carbon neutrality with its growing range of electric, hybrid and fuel cell construction and mining equipment.

More >>

Source: Komatsu

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... Sahara Desert

A logging company needed to hire another worker.

The first guy to apply was a short little skinny fellow, who was laughed at by the manager and told to leave.

"Just give me a chance," the little guy pleaded.

"Okay," the manager replied, "Grab your axe and cut down that tree over there."

Two minutes later he was back at the manager’s office, "Tree's cut. Do I get the job?"

"I don't believe it, that is so much faster than even my best worker could have ever done. Where did you learn to use an axe like that?" the manager inquired.

"Sahara Forest," the little guy replied.

"Don't you mean the Sahara Desert," the manager corrected him.

"Sure, that's what they call it now."

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Ken Wilson
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Mob: +61 452 262 337 Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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